This morning, I taught the lesson of Jesus' rejection at Nazareth. The text is found in Luke 4. Keep in mind that this is where Jesus grew up. Until this point, His ministry has been elsewhere. In this text, He has returned home, and He is famous.
Jesus was known throughout the land as a worker of miracles. He was a hot commodity. A public speaker, if you will. He would walk into synagogues and the people would listen. That is, until He reached Nazareth.
Jesus returns to Nazareth, and, in keeping with Jewish customs, visits the synagogue on the Sabbath Day to hear the Word. They did not have cute pocket PDA Scripture back then. Scripture was written on, 'huge clonking scrolls' (as I put it this morning). Having a copy of the Bible was not convenient not to mention not possible. With every page handwritten with care, these weren't in high supply in the times of the Old Testament. The synagogue would have a copy, and they would regard that copy very highly. So, people would go to the synagogue to hear the word read.
On this particular occasion, Jesus has been handed the scroll of Isaiah to read. Isaiah had to have been a huge scroll. It was not like the priest handed him a verse scribbled on notebook paper and said, "Here. Read this." He handed Jesus the scroll. In our Bibles, Isaiah has 66 chapters. The text Jesus read is from Isaiah 61. He didn't even start where it was convenient! He had a message for these people.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
If you look in Isaiah, you will see that Jesus has left out the end of this section of Isaiah. He has stopped in the middle and it has left the people waiting... they are waiting for the message... for the punch line... for the reason why He has stood up and spoken so little.
He goes on to announce that He is Messiah. They don't believe Him. You can almost hear the thoughts in their heads.
"You? Messiah? HA!! Yeah right! You couldn't be Messiah."
"What? Jesus... our Jesus is Messiah? The Promised One? But He grew up playing in the streets with my little Rebekah. He couldn't be Messiah!"
I could go on about how they wanted miracles to prove it and how He did none. I could go on about the prejudice of Jews to Gentiles. I could even discuss the rest of the prophecy in Isaiah, but what got me the most today was this.
Has He become so commonplace to me, that He means nothing? Has He become so 'simple' that He couldn't possibly be more than what I think He is? If He were to come out and say, "Listen, you need to fix this part of Your life" what would I say? Would I believe He has any right in my life or would I dismiss Him like any other person in my life?
Has Jesus just become the kid next door?